Equal Pay for Women in BJJ: A Verbal Grappling Special

Last month, The Verbal Grappling Podcast (a collaborative project by The BJJ Hour and Jiu Jitsu Times) put together a controversial and thought provoking episode: we discussed the subject of equal pay for women in BJJ with none other than the founder of that movement Dominyka Obelenyte and we also featured special guest and well known ladies man/27 time world champion Renato Laranja.

If you didn’t watch the episode you missed out big time, but it is available for replay.

If you weren’t already aware of it, here is some more information about the ongoing struggle of women in BJJ trying to obtain equal pay:

There were many points discussed, and regardless of the podcast team’s unanimous support of Dominyka we did our best to challenge her position. At the heart of the issue is the fact that female athletes tend to earn less than men because in many sports they draw fewer viewers than their male counterparts. In jiu jitsu this may not be the case, and we have no real way to know if it is or isn’t because the female brackets can be viewed on any pay per view alongside the male brackets.

Dominyka Obelenyte

One point made on the episode is that prize money is often determined by the amount of actual dollars that the event draws. That is to say, the pot available to the winners is comprised of a percentage of entry fees paid by other competitors. It was suggested that as a way to make equal pay more palpable, major organizations that would otherwise cut the prize money of women should base the total payout on the total number of registrants, and this should apply to both the male and the female brackets. This was one of the few points that everyone, even Uncle Renatch agreed upon.

The episode was less a debate and more a commentary on what the movement actually means. With excellent female athletes active on the scene, and more special events than ever before, it is important that women deserving of accolades also receive the financial compensation they need to continue doing what they do, as was alluded on the show you can’t eat medals and you can’t pay your rent with medals. High level competitors need their efforts to be worth something more than praise.

If you’ve got some time and want to be both entertained and enlightened, take some time to watch this episode. You’ll laugh, a lot, Tommy Costa is a funny dude and that Renato guy has some jokes too, but more importantly it’ll help put the cause into perspective.


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